Other Countries Adopt Energy-Efficient Government Purchasing

March 31, 2005

There is growing interest in energy-efficient purchasing by governments in other parts of the world. In many cases, these procurement programs have been based, at least in part, on the models of FEMP and its close relationship to ENERGY STAR® labeling. For example:


Following an agreement signed in September 2004 between the Danish Energy Saving Trust, a national Buyers Organization (SKI), and several IT suppliers, future government purchasing will include tough new energy efficiency specifications for PCs and monitors, including the FEMP low-standby criteria as well as low-power requirements for "sleep" and active modes. The program also includes a nationwide marketing campaign targeting non-government buyers.

This latest initiative builds on a longstanding tradition of voluntary energy-efficient purchasing by members of the Danish "A-Club," which include national and local government agencies, social housing organizations, and other consumers large and small. The A-Club, established in 1999, offers its members technical specifications and models for use in procurement, special offers, and brand-specific information on efficient models through a website (in Danish only). The A-Club is named for the highest-efficiency ("A") rating under the EU energy labeling scheme. When a public agency joins the Club, the agreement is taken as a serious policy commitment, typically signed by the relevant Minister, mayor, or agency director. Currently, 190 organizations are A-Club members with another 40 considering membership. Public members include the Danish Parliament, 9 government ministries and agencies, 7 county administrations, and 71 municipalities. In total, A-Club members from the government sector account for over 20 percent of electricity sales to the public sector in Denmark.

United Kingdom

Beginning in 2002, the UK government adopted a policy of purchasing more "sustainable" products, with energy efficiency criteria a significant component of sustainability and new, more specific requirements imposed beginning November 2003. The Office of Government Commerce is cooperating with the Department of Environment (DEFRA) to identify energy efficiency specifications and product sources ("Quick Wins") for a number of important product categories (MS Word 107 KB).


This past September a group of Mexican municipalities participated in a 2-day workshop in Toluca, south of Mexico City, to launch new programs for energy-efficient purchasing, inspired in large part by the experience in the U.S. with federal, state, and local procurement of ENERGY STAR® and FEMP-recommended efficient products. The workshop was organized by the municipal government association AMMAC, in partnership with the "Cities for Climate Protection" campaign led by ICLEI (see below) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Public officials in each city have committed to buying energy-efficient office equipment and lighting products, based on criteria that parallel the ENERGY STAR® label (for office equipment) and a Mexican voluntary label for lighting (Sello FIDE).


Also this past September, two major agencies of the Chinese government have approved in principal a proposed new policy for energy-efficient purchasing by all central government agencies. The program, to be launched in early 2005, initially covers more than 15 types of products that meet efficiency specifications certified by the China Center for Certification of Energy Conservation Products (CECP). To prepare for this new program, the CECP hosted a workshop on government sector energy efficiency in Fall 2003.


A well-established program in Korea requires that government agencies follow energy efficiency specifications in purchasing more than 25 types of products. This past summer, an official from the Korea Energy Management Corporation announced that the government is proposing a new requirement for government agencies to purchase low-standby products "based on President Bush's Executive Order."


Like Korea, Japan has legal requirements in place calling on government agencies to follow energy efficiency specifications when buying certain products—at least 19 types of product as of the regulations updated in 2002.

European Union "PROST" Study

A 2-year study of energy-efficient government procurement sponsored by the European Union led to publication of the 2002 report "Harnessing the Power of the Public Purse." The study reviews government energy-efficiency procurement activities in the 7 participating European Union countries (and 12 others), and concludes that investments of about 80 million/year could lead to government energy cost savings of up to 12 billion annually. View the report.

Municipal purchasing campaigns

An international non-government organization, ICLEI (formerly International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives) sponsors the "Procura+" and "Cities for Climate Protection" campaigns in many countries around the world, including the U.S.

"e-Parliament" Network

The e-Parliament is a voluntary international network of elected government officials, formed in 2002. Working mainly on-line, the group shares ideas on legislation to advance sustainability, including a strong emphasis on energy efficiency under the "Action Network on Climate and Energy." One of their policy recommendations is for governments to use their buying power to encourage market shifts toward energy efficiency. Another part of the e-Parliament Toolkit addresses low standby power, with specific reference to the USDOE/FEMP program to implement Executive Order 13221.

For more detail on these and other programs for energy-efficient purchasing, check out the country summaries. For more information, contact Joan Glickman or Jeff Harris.